Another Loss For Employers
1. One Stray Remark Can Lead to Harassment Lawsuit
Senate Bill 1300, effective January 1, 2019, has amended the Government Code in California to make a single incident of a stray remark potentially relevant to a harassment lawsuit. It defines “impermissible conduct” as disrupting emotional tranquility in the workplace or otherwise interfering with a victim’s work. This loose definition allowing for a single incident to lead to possible harassment lawsuit in California is a different standard than the one that is adopted in federal courts. Specifically, the 9thCircuit Court of Appeal has issued a ruling that said one incident of harassment cannot rise to severe or pervasive conduct. The divergence between state and federal practices will probably lead to more superior court lawsuits alleging harassment than in federal court.
Furthermore, the new law specifically states that disposition of Fair Employment and Housing Act cases by summary judgment is “rarely appropriate.”
Comment: Disrupting emotional tranquility in the workplace or otherwise interfering with a victim’s work, are you kidding me? I could just envision somebody wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat or some other type of hat or t-shirt that somebody feels disrupts their emotional tranquility or interferes with their work, coupled with the fact you cannot get the case thrown out on a summary judgment, could lead to a bonanza for employment lawyers filing harassment lawsuits and then getting favorable settlements because it is less expensive to litigate than to settle, particularly when you cannot get the case thrown out on a summary judgment. Welcome to doing business in California!
About the Author
Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 42 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.